A SHORT INTRODUCTION BY WRITER-DIRECTOR GIUSEPPE TORNATORE
One of the countless possible etymologies has it that Bagheria might also derive from Bab el gherid, which in Arabic apparently means The Gateway of the Wind. But, from time immemorial, we've always called it Baarìa.
Baarìa, in the province of Palermo, is the town where I was born and raised up to the age of twenty eight. Too old according to Don Fabrizio Salina, the Prince in Lampedusa's The Leopard, who claimed that young men should leave Sicily before they turned seventeen to avoid absorbing into their character the typical Sicilian flaws.
So I had time to absorb them all. First of all, definitely, the idea that wherever you were born is the centre of the world, indeed, is the world itself. And lastly, but no less serious, the ephemeral escape into the limbo of your memories as soon as you realise that the world has actually always been elsewhere and has kept on turning without you.
Well, it is perhaps to recapture the innocence I lost the day I disembarked from my ship from Sicily or, even worse, to be consistent with the flaws I have by being a baariòto that, for over twenty years (some traces had already surfaced in my works set against a Sicilian background), I have been thinking about making a film about the unique and timeless season in my life when the Universe started in Via Gioacchino Guttuso 114, unfolded from Piazza Madrice along the alley of Corso Umberto I°, and ended at the Roundabout di Palagonia. It's only, all in all, a few hundred metres. But if you walk them up and down for years, you could learn what the whole world will never be able to teach you.
GIUSEPPE TORNATORE (Director and Screenwriter)
Born in Bagheria (Palermo). After many years dedicated to the theatre, to photography and to the making of a number of documentary films, he made his debut at twenty nine as a film director with The Professor, for which he also co-wrote the screenplay with Massimo De Rita. But it was in 1989 that he achieved international renown with Cinema Paradiso, for which he wrote the story and the screenplay and which won him an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. Since then, Tornatore's films have been regularly distributed worldwide winning him awards and success. He has worked with many great actors including: Ben Gazzarra, Jacques Perrin, Marcello Mastroianni, Michèle Morgan, Sergio Castellitto, Laura Del Sol, Philippe Noiret, Tim Roth, Gerard Depardieau, Roman Polanski, Monica Bellucci, and Michele Placido.
An amusing and wistful story of great passions and passionate utopian dreams. A legend thronged with heroes … A Sicilian family depicted across three generations: from Cicco to his son Peppino to his grandson Pietro…
Touching lightly upon the private lives of these characters and their families, the film evokes the loves, dreams and disappointments of an entire community in the Palermo province from the 1930s up to the 1980s: during the Fascist period, Cicco is a humble shepherd who, however, finds time to pursue his passion: books, epic poems, the great popular romance novels. In the days when people went hungry and during World War II, his son Peppino witnesses injustice and discovers a passion for politics. After the war, his fateful encounter with the woman of his life. A relationship opposed by one and all because Peppino has become a Communist. But the two young lovers will succeed in fulfilling their dream.
THE NUMBERS IN BAARÍA
· 9 months of preparation
· 12 months to build the sets
· 25 weeks of filming
· 1/10/2007 start of principal photography
· 7/8/2008 end of principal photography
· 4 interruptions in filming (weather problems, organizational requirements)
· 122 locations
· 2,800 costumes
· 300,000 meters of film
· 174 scenes
· 210 characters
· 63 professional actors
· 147 non-professional actors
· 35,000 extras
· 200 crew members
· 350 set construction technicians
· 1,200 cubic meters of timber
· 250 vehicles, carriages, carts, classic cars, etc…
· 1,500 animals
· 2,603 film shots
· 3,222 editing cuts
· 1,107 digital effects
· 2 editions (Sicilian dialect and Italian)
· 1,431 musicians in 25 recording sessions
· 27 original music themes
· 30 music repertoire pieces
· From the late 1910s to the present day, the historical period covered by the film
Ennio Morricone (Composer)
My work is always based on a detailed study of the script. I need to know everything about a film. The characters, the twists and turns in the plot, the setting, the historical timeframe. From my initial approach to Baarìa, I realized it was going to be a very complex and delicate undertaking. A journey across the early decades of the 20th century, but also a film through which Tornatore meant to pay tribute to his homeland and consequently to his family.
Faced with the responsibility of writing the score for such an important film, I needed to find the right key. Even before seeing the rough cut of the film, I had already written some of the more significant musical themes. Tornatore was pleased and once again we found that, right from the start, we were in full agreement as to the direction the work should take.
I'm not just paying Peppuccio a compliment; this film has enchanted me. It isn't just another movie in his extraordinary filmography, but rather a work that can make time stand still; it is a point of arrival with all that it takes for it to be a great work of art.
Audiences will not - I'm sure - fail to appreciate the very high inspiration emanating from every single scene and the powerful epic nature of this film which is permeated with an all-encompassing and deeply-felt humanism.
ENNIO MORRICONE (Composer)
A Roman, he acquired international renown thanks to his work with film director Sergio Leone, composing the scores for the film trilogy starring Clint Eastwood: A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (1964), FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE (1965) and THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY (1966).Born in 1928, Ennio Morricone studied musical composition with Goffredo Petrassi at the Conservatory of Santa Cecilia. He worked as an arranger from the late '50s to the mid-60's, with artists like Mario Lanza, Paul Anka, Charles Aznavour and Gianni Morandi. His first assignment for a film score came in 1961 (with Il Federale directed by Luciano Salce).From the start of his career in films he worked with some of the leading European film directors such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Mauro Bolognini, Elio Petri, Gillo Pontecorvo, Henry Verneuil, and Giuliano Montaldo.The American and British film directors with whom he has worked include: Don Siegel, John Boorman, Terence Malik, Richard Fleisher and William Friedkin.American recognition came with the score for Roland Joffe's film Mission (1986), which won him one of the four Academy Award nominations he has received in the course of his career. After Mission, he composed a number of successful film scores such as the ones for FRANTIC by Roman Polanski (1988); CASUALTIES OF WAR by Brian De Palma (1989); HAMLET by Franco Zeffirelli (1990); TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! by Pedro Almodovar (1990); CITY OF JOY by Roland Joffe (1992); IN THE LINE OF FIRE by Wolfgang Petersen (1993) and WOLF by Mike Nichols (1994). One of the most successful soundtracks, loved by audiences worldwide, is the one Ennio Morricone wrote for CINEMA PARADISO (1988) - (Academy Award for Best Foreign Film) by Giuseppe Tornatore, who chose him for the scores of all his other films.
Maurizio Sabatini (Art Director)
Everything started towards the end of 2006. Giuseppe Tornatore invited me to lunch and told me about his project. A film, but more than just that. A truly titanic undertaking which was going to require a great deal of hard work. I accepted the challenge. It's not often you get an opportunity to work with a director of such standing. The research work began immediately and right from the start it was detailed and painstaking work. It was essential not to leave anything to chance and to lay the ground firmly for the development of a stage setting machinery that was going to be much more complicated than many others are.
After two months of research, I submitted my results to Tornatore who approved them immediately. Our work together was born under this sign. Altogether, passion, determination and enthusiasm.
After three months of set design planning, filming began. Tunisia was the best possible choice. First of all because you can work extremely well there but also because the most beautiful places there present a number of analogies with Bagheria as it was in the early 20th century.
The first set was built just outside Tunis, in an abandoned factory, the second one, at Hammamet.
Unquestionably the most difficult aspect involved designing a set in which it would be possible to "leap" from one historic period to another. On some days the action took place in the 1920s, on other days we were in the 1960s. So, these sets needed to travel through time and they were given a magical character thanks to everyone's work and to Tornatore's extraordinary energy (or vitality)This is a film which will go down in, the history of filmmaking, and not just Italian filmmaking.
In some ways, I feel it is comparable to "Once upon a time in America"…
Francesco Scianna (Peppino)
The lead role in Tornatore's new film… hard to believe! When I was told, I went off to play soccer. Rather reckless of me. While we were filming, I used to go to bed very late and get up at 5.00 am. It was the only way for me to ease my anxiety and avoid feeling over-pressured. Apart from that, it has been a thrilling experience and Margareth Madè was an extraordinary partner on the set.
Margareth Madè (Mannina)
How did a model like me get this far? Easy, after three unsuccessful screen tests! When I did my fourth one, the one for Baarìa, I landed the lead role. To say that it was the most incredible experience in my life would be a gross understatement. As confirmed by the fact that I wept on the last day of shooting. Tornatore is unique. What he found fascinating about me was my face; a face from the past which he felt would be perfect for his film.
Nicole Grimaudo (the Young Sarina)
I was contacted for this role several weeks after my screen test. And I actually got drunk that evening, I was so excited. Tornatore probably chose me because of my strong fullblooded Sicilian character and I am deeply grateful to him. To work with a director like him has been, to say the least, a formative experience. And I can only feel proud about having contributed to a film which is an authentic manifesto of the Sicilian character.
Angela Molina (Adult Sarina)
Tornatore called me on my birthday. What a great piece of news, to be part of such an ambitious and important film. I was so happy that I even decided to stop smoking. When we met, I asked him to tell me more about my role. I must confess I was rather worried I might have to play, once again, a hateful character like I did in The Unknown Woman.
But this wasn't the case. My character fully reflects the extraordinary and magical nature of the film. Because Baarìa is first and foremost a tale about childhood memories, a deep reflection on time and the roots of our history. A major undertaking in which only someone like Giuseppe could have succeeded.
Lina Sastri (Tana)
To me Baarìa is a fateful film. I had been thinking about working with Tornatore for years. We had promised each other a long time ago but then, for a number of reasons, our paths never crossed. As luck would have it, this time it all worked out. The day after I received his call, I took a flight to Catania, destination Bagheria. I was, to put it mildly, excited. The only real problem I had on the set was the dialect. I'm a full-blooded Neapolitan and having to speak the Sicilian dialect was no easy task.
Salvo Ficarra and Valentino Picone (Nino and Luigi)
When we heard Tornatore had chosen us, we switched off our mobile phones. For the rest of the day, in fact, we were terrified he might change his mind...
Luigi Lo Cascio (a Beggar)
When I was told I was going to be part of the cast of the film, I was just outside the church where I got married. It seemed a really good omen. My adventure on the set began with unrestrained enthusiasm and it has given me a chance to gain a very valuable experience in filmmaking and in life itself. I like Tornatore and the unique kind of relationship he establishes with actors. As a filmmaker, he succeeds in bringing out the best in each and every actor, pushing him or her to venture into unknown territory.
He immediately explained to me the real nature of the character I was to play, comparing him to a chorister in a tragic chorus. Someone who is an integral part of the scene even though he must distil his presence there. The greatest quality I have discovered in Giuseppe is his ability to consider things on two different planes: a general and a microscopic level simultaneously. He is a director with an allencompassing sense of staging and an uncommon focus on detail.
Enrico Lo Verso (Minicu)
Tornatore made things very clear from the start, telling me that mine was to be a cameo role. But I had no trouble accepting this, as one rarely gets an opportunity to work with someone like him. First of all I had to go on a diet. In the times described by the film, people went hungry and their physical condition was, to say the least, poor. This is why, over a short period of time, I lost as much as 11 kilos. And that was just the start. To really get into the role of the shepherd, for a while I lived in a sheepfold on the Madonie mountains. Conditions were, to put it mildly, difficult: it was dark, water was rationed and I had no bed. But it was a necessary and important experience. In line with what Tornatore requires of his actors: simply their utmost. I am much more comfortable with a director like him than I am with those who are easily pleased.
Nino Frassica (Giacomo Bartolotta)
When I saw The Professor many years ago, I was impressed by the talent of this director who was as yet unknown. After all these years, Tornatore has become one of the greatest directors in filmmaking today. Being chosen by someone like him has been like winning an award, a very important award.
Michele Placido (PCI Representative)
My experience with Tornatore on the set of The Unknown Woman was very important.
Indeed, it didn't mark only the birth of a wonderful friendship, but also the beginning of our collaboration which - I'm sure - will be productive also in the future. My relationship with Giuseppe isn't just an actor/director relationship; it goes deeper, an understanding which has to do with a sort of creative writing in progress. I enjoy working with him also because he always succeeds in making me feel involved, often asking my advice and opinion. And I am very proud to have played a role in this film which is bound to stand out as one of Giuseppe's most important artistic achievements.
Vincenzo Salemme (Theatre Company Leader)
One evening like many others I had gone out to rent a film. Suddenly, my mobile phone rang, it was Giuseppe Tornatore, the man I consider the greatest Italian film director today. Getting a role in Baarìa has filled me with pride.
Beppe Fiorello (Seller of Dollars)
I had never met Tornatore, but he has always been one of my favorite film directors.
This direct experience on the set has given me a chance to get to know him well and I must admit I was quite surprised. After seeing his films, I had an impression of him which led me to believe I would be dealing with a rather stern and serious man. Instead,
I found the complete opposite. The thing that has impressed me most about Giuseppe is his rich irony. He is a very amusing man, with a sharp mind, someone who sweeps you away like a river in flood. And indeed Baarìa is a great comedy, with some really humorous scenes.
Aldo Baglio (Profiteer)
When Giuseppe called me, he was still working on the script. I'm happy that my role in Baarìa is going to be a nice surprise for everyone. By this I don't mean to say that it will mark a new beginning. This time, I'm playing a "bad guy", it's true, but I think that, at least for a while, this will be just an isolated case in my filmography. And it has also been a truly unique experience. Tornatore is a real steamroller, he embodies determination. In addition to being one the few people in Italy today who are able to think big.
Raoul Bova (Roman Journalist)
Tornatore and I are both introverts which is why every time we met in the past, there had never been an opportunity to get to know each other better. This did instead happen on the set of Baarìa where I discovered a man who is kind and thorough, impassioned and demanding. The last outstanding representative of a kind of cinema that today no longer exists.
Lollo Franco (Don Giacinto)
Taking part in the film has meant meeting Tornatore again after twenty years. I found it very moving because, a long time ago, I was the one to present Giuseppe with his first important award which was inscribed with the words "the poet of images". So if I were to describe him in one sentence this is the one I would use, "a poet of images". He is not just an artist, he's a real genius, one more in the long list of great men born in Bagheria who have succeeded in expressing a vision of the world and of their bond with their Sicilian roots through their art. Tornatore is one of the few Italian film directors who know how to capture the soul of a people.
Michele Russo (Turiddu the Saddler)
Baarìa is a film which marks a new artistic beginning for me. Over the last few years, for a number of reasons, I've worked only occasionally and I was really touched when Tornatore called me. Which film could possibly have been better in changing the direction of my work? My experience on the set was fantastic and I was deeply impressed by the incredible love Tornatore feels for all the actors. You can see it in his eyes that he always wishes he had more time to spend on the set and to explain in detail to each and every actor the contribution he wants them to make to the film.
THE ART OF WORLD CINEMA